The Mayenne River offers 200km of waterways to discover the rich heritage and picturesque countryside of the Pays de le la Loire. A perfect cruise location for nature lovers, famous for its locks, each of which has its own charm and character – the bakery lock where you’ll find an explanation of the history of bread, the grocery lock, restaurant lock and more. It is also great for its riverside taverns and pretty towns where boats can moor up and taste the delectable local food and wine. Mayenne River cruises are ideal for first time pilots as Monika Fuchs from Germany finds out…
We had never heard of the River Mayenne until last July when we went on a houseboat tour from Daon to Laval for a four day adventure. The Mayenne is one of those rivers in France where you can rent a boat as an absolute beginner and you don’t need a boat license to navigate the river.
I and my fellow travel blogger guests had never been on a houseboat before, and we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. When we saw the boat we had rented we started to have second thoughts. The Gabrielle, our boat, turned out to be the biggest in the small houseboat harbour of Daon, and we only got a short introduction on how to handle the boat and the river. Luckily we had two keen-to-drive men on board, who were intent on steering, even through the narrowest locks and under the lowest bridges. We quickly fell into a daily routine with the women doing the cooking and cleaning and the men taking care of the boat.
Once we had settled in to this day to day procedure we realised how lucky we were to have chosen the Gabrielle. Each of us had enough space to himself to sometimes just retreat and relax or we could join in the activities on board as and when we wished. This made for a very relaxing tour where we could enjoy the beautiful surroundings we were passing through. We saw impressive chateaux on the hills along the river and historic towns like Château Gontier and Laval. We also got the chance to see more remote places for overnight stays, one of which presented us with a nice frog concert in a nearby pond.
When we docked in one of the towns along the river, each of us chose what interested him most: some went to relax in a spa, others enjoyed the beautiful gardens of Châteaux Gontier, while the third couple went to the local zoo to see the monkeys. In Laval we made use of the the bikes on board to discover the town and its historic environs.The bikes also came in handy en route since there were cylcle trails along the river all the way from Daon to Laval. Sometimes we docked to let some of our passengers go for a bike ride and we’d pick them up at a spot further down the river.
This trip was the the most relaxing time with lots of beautiful views along the river and in the towns. The local cuisine was excellent and there were great opportunities to discover this pretty stretch from Daon to Laval by bike and boat.
Monika Fuchs is a German travel journalist and blogger.